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Somehow I always seem to move to a new place just before a major life a event. We moved to Knoxville, then got engaged. We moved to Virginia, then got pregnant. So, since I’m about 6-12 hours away from many of my nearest and dearest, I didn’t expect to have a Baby Shower. But…we managed to meet up at Wimbo’s parents cabin in Hendersonville, North Carolina over the weekend. I knew that it would a challenge for friends and family to gather in one place because everyone had to travel. But…I’m so thankful. My mom and dad came, and so did some friends from Knoxville and college. I cried a lot and felt very loved.
A BFF came to see me this weekend. What a treat! Gregg made us pizza on Friday night. Sam (her 16 month old) got to run around with the dogs, cats, and sheep. Did I mention our (hopefully) pregnant sheep are finally living with us? We also roamed around a town yard sale on Saturday. That’s right, a whole town came out to sell their stuff in a yard sale. We racked up. I got a necklace, a pile of lace for crafting, some Christmas ornaments, and a leopard print coat for a six month old girl(I have a hunch okay). [Comment on animal print: I never have worn animal print except for a snakeskin tube top I owned in high school. Was that even me? Not sure. Animal print is just not my thing, but on a little girl? Come on, that’s going to be adorable. Gregg was not a fan.] I didn’t pay more than $2 for anything (better than Goodwill!). E, Jeff, and Sam got an array of classic boardgames.
The best thing about this weekend was being known. Even for just 24 hours, I had friend in my house who has known me since I was three years old. (Wow.) We knew each other as little kids in preschool, as Freshman year roommates, as newly married friends, and, now, as moms and moms-to-be. So, so thankful. These kind of friendships are rare. My college friendships are rare, because they are lasting. They have a future and a past. I heard that the average friendship only lasts 6 years.
Meeting friends on the Eastern Shore, we’re starting right where we are, in the present, that is. There’s no past. Only a now and a future. In a place where people already have long-standing friendships with handfuls of people, nobody really feels like they need a new friend. They’re all lived here their whole lives, or so it seems.
This brings me to my resolution. I want to be welcoming to new people in the future. This resolution is stemming from our experience here so far. It seems like our friendships are two steps forward and one step back.
After getting settled in my community (in college, in San Francisco, in Knoxville), I have been pretty hesitant to reach out to new people. Small talk is hard and exhausting. But making people feel welcome is really important.
I prayed for a friend this weekend, after E left, and God began to answer me. At Sunday school, the girls were really excited that I was pregnant. Its fun to connect with people over an unborn baby. Its like insta-connection.
We had our first Book Club meeting last night. I laugh when I think about it, because it was my idea to start it, but I didn’t invite one single person to join it. (Not true, I invited two, neither of which joined). But, I think it is working out well because I’ve planted myself in the middle of a group of sisters and their friends who have all been so sweet, fun, and welcoming.
We read We Need to Talk about Kevin. The mother narrates the story. and she is brutally honest about how she dislikes/distrusts/disdains her son. Her dislike may be justified, since her son goes on to murder 11 people in a school shooting (this isn’t giving away the story). There’s a lot of lovely and wordy inner monologue from the narrator about her fears leading up to becoming a mother and, later, how she feels about her son’s dark behavior as he gets older.
INTENSE. I NEVER would have chosen to read it on my own, but the challenge was good for me (and some of the other girls as well). One of the sisters in the Book Club loves darker (more sinister?) books, so she suggested this one. (She also suggested The Undertaker for book #2 which we all quickly vetoed, opting for a more light-hearted book our 2nd time around). She caught on to symbolism that I didn’t see, but, after she pointed it out, it was so obvious. I need my own personal English teacher to point out what I’m missing in each book I read.
I loved seeing and hearing how everyone responded to the book differently. We asked questions and shared our different thoughts and opinions about what happened in the book. We even shared how we related to the fears that the mother wrestled with throughout the story, though we had different opinions about whether she was justified in her feelings. Also, a looming question was whether or not it was her fault that her son turned out to be a murderer.
Just in case you’re curious, our Book Club includes two stay-at-home-moms, an English(!) teacher, two girls with top-secret government jobs, and our hostess (I don’t know how she spends her days).
We had some friends over for dinner on Friday. Gregg grilled burgers and made homemade potato chips. He did not catch the house on fire while slicing, dicing, and frying the potato chips. (Thank goodness, we like our little rental house.) Our friends, Robert and Jen, are in their thirties and have been on the Shore nearly forever. She moved here in the nineties, and he is a local, born and raised here. Gregg says that he’s one of the good locals: helpful friendly, open to newcomers. Robert and Jen have some land of their own down the road from us. They have a donkey and some Hog Island sheep. Their sheep are feral (survived in the wild) and native to the area. Our soon-to-be sheep, which Gregg is planning on purchasing this week, are going to stay with our friends’ sheep for awhile and hopefully create a baby lamb or two in the process of their stay. Stay tuned…
I also had my first Book Club meeting this Saturday. We decided to read We Need to Talk about Kevin. It looks a bit morbid, but we liked the title and one of the girls really wants to read it. I was definitely the “newbie” of the group which is to be expected but a tad uncomfortable. Talking about books gave us instant common ground though. “What kind of books do you like to read?” Everyone loved answering the question around the table.
In addition to blooming friendships, football season officially started this weekend. For me, this means knitting on the couch so that I can spend time with my football-watching husband. It also means asking interested questions about fantasy football and learning all of the NFL quarterbacks names. You can’t beat RG3’s nickname.
Knoxville still feels like home to us. After living in a handful of different cities and states, coming back to Knoxville feels like home. Our families and friends are there. Our church is there. Friends that we’ve had for years, and other friends that, even if we haven’t known them for very long, they are forever friends.
Making friends in a new place is like starting from scratch. There are no connections, no common ground, no friends in common.
Last week we took a road trip that ended in Knoxville. Our friend and matchmaker, Joe, got married to a lovely girl that I’ve known since middle school. I love that connectivity. We stopped in the Outer Banks for me to frolic on the beach, in Boone to hug Ruby (and Meg and Tim), and in the mountains for Gregg to frolic in the Smokies. (Picturing Gregg frolicking is really funny to me.)
We went home to Knoxville, and came back home, to the Eastern Shore. Not really sure where home is. Maybe its good to have more than one?
A the end of our trip, we were unloading our car after our 10 hour road trip across Virginia when we noticed a cute letter neatly tied to our door. It was from our neighbor inviting us over for drinks. Also, this week I have my first book club gathering, and Gregg is meeting with a friend to talk sheep, cows, and milk-shares. Several nice little gifts awaited us upon our return to the Shore.
Austin and Megan are our very very good couple friends. We went to Hawaii together. We started a small group together. We got married a couple of months apart. We cooked dinner together once a week. We lived down the street from each other. And, now, they’re coming to visit us. Our friendship continues. 🙂
With Austin and Megan, Gregg and I learned how to have couple friends. Friendship changes when you get married. I’m less vulnerable with my girlfriends than I was when I was single because I’m not only dumping my stuff out on them but my husband’s and my marriage’s as well. With couple friends, I can be vulnerable because Gregg is right beside me to defend himself if needed. Or, I can check in with him as I am talking, “are you okay if I tell them this?” He can’t really say no at that point, but at least I ask.
The best part of couple friends is the “us, too” part. When I share something with a girlfriend about myself, a huge part of me is sharing so that they’ll tell me I’m not alone. “Me, too” or “I know what you mean,” can be the most reassuring and refreshing of phrases when I am pouring my guts out. When Gregg and I share with Austin and Megan, there is almost always a “the same thing happens to us, too” during the conversation. Marriage isn’t all hard, but when it is, to know that other couples have issues and even the same ones can be so encouraging.